Finally. After two posts, we make it to Whangarei (if I ever post photos from my previous NZ trip, it will be more of the same. It would probably take four posts just to make it from Taupo to Wellington).
There are a couple of main roads with shops and such running North-South, and then up right below the Hatea River is the Town Basin itself, all of which seem to more or less compose the Whangarei Central Business District.
The Basin is properly on the river (which Google’s GPS voice pronounces as “Hater River”). I lunched at a lovely restaurant called Reva’s, which is where this photo was taken. Honestly at this point the vacation was already a success, so everything that comes after is pretty much gravy :)
I had such a typical Nathan moment at Reva’s. I walk in to this restaurant I’ve never been to before, read the menu, decide I knew better, and ask the chef if he’ll make me something not on the menu (he did, and it was delicious). I try not to be a food snob, but it’s so tempting sometimes!
(The Hatea River is properly spelt with a macron over the a, making it Hātea. Ain’t nobody got time for that, though, so I will render it Hatea, except when I call it the Hater River because I think that’s hilarious).
The benches in the Town Basin are pretty funky. You can adjust the back so you can sit looking in either direction. While the engineer in me loves this, the pragmatist notes that the bench is unfortunately not extremely comfortable and wonders why anyone would not want to look at the river. A for effort though!
While driving in, I passed a used bookstore a few blocks from the Basin. After lunch, of course I walked back to check it out. It was wonderful, if not perhaps quite as organized as it might have been. There was also a cat wandering around — I got the sense that the proprietors also lived there and it was their pet cat. When I retire, I would love to live in a bookstore in Whangarei with a pet cat. So no judgement here; as far as I’m concerned they’re living the dream!
Side note: for some reason, New Zealand is obsessed with Frida Kahlo (upper left, in case you don’t feel like playing Where’s Frida?). Her picture is seriously all over. I have no idea why.
There was also this really neat gallery of glassware. Yes, this isn’t actually pottery, it is blown glass! Mind = blown.
This stuff is honestly just stunning. I stayed in here for as long as I could before the proprietress started asking pointed questions about whether I was planning on buying anything.
At this point in a purely chronological account I would put photos of my hike up Mt. Parihaka, but I have heaps so I’ll save them for the next post. Here’s another picture of one of the cool benches (this one is even more pointless since you can’t actually sit in the other direction, haha).
The hotel I booked for the night is called the Grand Hotel. Its website claims that Queen Elizabeth II stayed there when she visited Whangarei. I feel like it’s let itself go a bit since then — for one thing, there’s no attendant on duty most of the time so you have to go to the bar next door to book a room. I’m reasonably certain it’s also haunted.
Wandering specters aside, the room was cheap and reasonable; I have no qualms about my stay there. It was somewhat difficult to actually find a non-fast-food place to eat in Whangarei on a Monday night, but I managed.
The next day I embarked on a long hike. But before we get to that, I need to post some photos of Whangarei from up high. Yep: I climbed a mountain. Stay tuned!